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How to repair a kite: Kiteboarding 101

Sept 11, 2006

Author: Casey Houtz

Trashing your kite during a trip and not knowing how to fix it sucks. Where did that coconut tree come from? With a few tips from the pros, and some simple repair items, you’ll be ready to take care of the more common repairs on the beach, getting yourself back on the water quickly.

Lay the kite on a smooth work surface and start by assembling the torn pieces with masking tape. Use the graphics or the rip-stop grid pattern to align the cloth pieces. You may find it easier to use three-inch lengths of masking tape so that you can focus on aligning three inches of cloth at a time. Work from whichever side of the kite allows you to clearly see how the panels go back together. Use plenty of tape so that the panels don’t separate as you handle the kite.

Once the entire tear is held together with masking tape, carefully look over your work and make sure the kite has the same shape it had before the damage occurred. Check to make sure there are no wrinkles, folds, gathers, or gaps in your repair. It’s at this time you can pull up the masking tape and redo any areas that appear misaligned. If everything looks good, you’re ready to apply the repair tape.

Lay out the kite so that the masking tape is on the backside of the area you’re repairing. Carefully lay down the repair tape as smooth and straight as possible over the tear. The repair will prove stronger if you let the tape run past the ends of the tear. You may find 18-inch strips of repair tape are easier to work with.

A strut or the leading edge shouldn’t prevent you from running the repair tape past the end of a tear. If the tear runs up to the leading edge, be sure to apply tape that runs off the canopy and at least four inches onto the leading edge for extra strength. If the tear runs up to a strut, make sure that the repair tape runs long on the side of the canopy opposite the side that has the strut.

After having applied the repair tape to one side of the tear, flip the kite over and remove the masking tape that was on the opposite side. Apply repair tape to this side of the kite, effectively sandwiching the tear between two layers of repair tape. Try to offset the layers of tape so that the edges don’t align and form a wear spot.

Large repairs should be reinforced with strips of repair tape running perpendicular to the repair.

Repairing any sizeable rips with repair tape is a temporary fix at best. However, it may allow you to get one last kite session while on vacation. Have your kite professionally repaired as soon as possible. A tape fix might fail and cause more extensive damage to your kite after prolonged use.

Be sure to check the tape after every ride to make sure it is not lifting up. You should also hold the taped area up to the sun to see what is going on under the tape. If the cloth pieces are separating, pull off the tape and tape again.

Tape up the tear with masking tape. Use the graphics or rip-stop pattern to align the pieces.
Lay out the kite so that the masking tape is on the backside of the area you are repairing.
Apply repair tape to the side of the canopy opposite the masking tape.
Let the repair tape run past the ends of the tear.
Offset the repair tapes on either side of the canopy.
Finished repair. Note the repair tape extends past the original tears and there are perpendicular reinforcing pieces.

Repair Kit
roll of masking tape
roll of repair tape (nylon or Dacron)

Repair tape: Do's and Dont's
Use nylon or Dacron (polyester) repair tapes only.
Do not use any glue, glue-on patches, epoxies, etc.
These fixes are semi-rigid and when they flex and crack, they often tear the fabric.
Do not use permanent tapes.
You get one chance to do it right, and a professional repair will cost more because your fix will have to be cut out.
Do not use duct-type tapes that leave and leak residue.
Residue will pick up sand and work as sandpaper on the rest of your kite. Professional repairs will cost more because the adhesive needs to be removed before fixing.
Do not use tapes that aren’t cloth.
Non-cloth tapes react differently than cloth when exposed to the elements. Often a non-cloth tape will shrink, leaving you with a fix that affects the kite’s performance.

Casey Houtz is co-owner of Airtime Kite Inc ., America’s leading kite repair company.

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